More than half of Australia under lockdown to combat COVID’s Delta variant spread

As elections approach in the country, reports suggest that Australia’s slow vaccination and frequent lockdowns are putting pressure on its government.

More than half of Australia under lockdown to combat COVID's Delta variant spread
A general view of a quiet street in Sydney on July 19, 2021, amid a lockdown in Melbourne and Sydney as Australia seeks to contain a surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo Credit: AFP)

New Delhi: More than half of Australia went under lockdown after a third Australian state imposed restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to reports.

South Australia, with a population of 1.8 million, imposed a seven-day lockdown following reports of five cases linked to a returned traveller, just as the neighbouring state of Victoria extended its earlier five-day lockdown by one more week.

As elections approach in Australia, reports suggest that Australia’s slow vaccination and frequent lockdowns are putting pressure on its government even though its COVID-19 caseload and death count are at a better place compared to developed nations. “We hate putting these restrictions in place but we believe we have one chance to get this right,” South Australia Premier Steven Marshall told reporters.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia’s largest city where the latest Delta outbreak started before spreading elsewhere, is in its fourth week of a five-week lockdown. Three regional centres were added to areas 250 km (155 miles) inland after a positive test there. New South Wales recorded 78 new cases on Tuesday, down from 98 a day earlier, for its biggest daily dip since Sydney went into lockdown. At least 21 of the new cases were infectious in the community before being diagnosed. Authorities have said that figure should be near zero if Sydney’s lockdown is to be lifted by a target date of July 30.

“We are seeing more hospitalisations, more admissions to ICU, more people on ventilators – we have to stop the spread of COVID,” Kerry Chant, the state’s chief health officer, said in Sydney, referring to intensive care units.

Ninety-five people with COVID-19 are in hospital in New South Wales, 27 of them in intensive care and 11 on ventilators. The state’s five deaths in the latest outbreak take the national toll to 915, with a tally of just over 32,000 infections.

Victoria’s nine locally acquired cases, down from 13 a day earlier, followed a downward trend but took its tally of infections to more than 80. All but one of the new cases were linked to the current outbreak, officials said.

The number of virus-exposed sites in Victoria has exceeded 300 since the first cases detected a week ago, linked to a team of infectious furniture movers from Sydney.

(With inputs from agency)